USB audio problems with 2013 iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by badlydrawnboy, Dec 8, 2013.

  1. badlydrawnboy macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2003
    #1
    I'm having a strange audio problem with USB microphones and headsets. The issue with my Logitech H650e is shown in this screencast I recorded. In the first part of the screencast, I am not speaking into the mic—yet you can see the levels fluctuating as if there is static playing (not in a natural pattern that you'd see when someone is speaking). In the next part of the video I demonstrate that selecting the built-in iMac mic for input, and then re-selecting the Logitech headset temporarily solves the problem. You can see the input start to fluctuate normally as it should when I am speaking. But at 0:31 in the screencast, you can see the input levels freeze and stop registering anything. I continued to speak until the end of the screencast, but no input was detected. For this screencast, I was on a Go To Webinar call, but the problem occurs regardless of whether I'm using Skype, Go To Webinar, GarageBand or any other software.

    The problem with my Blue Yeti USB microphone is also different. In that case, the input does not freeze as it does with the Logitech headset. The levels appear as you would expect, and it seems to work. However, the person on the other end can hear static in the background, even though I don't hear it in my own headphones. I learned this because I just tried to do a Skype interview with the Blue Yeti, and the interviewer told me they could hear static. We closed Skype and called each other back twice, but the problem persisted. Then, suspecting the problem was related to what I described above with the Logitech, I unplugged the Yeti and then plugged it into my Macbook Air 2013 (also running Mavericks). Lo and behold the static completely disappeared.

    My Griffin iMic and Audio Technica lavalier mic (attached to the iMic) behaves similarly to the Yeti, except in this case I can hear the static when I speak with my monitoring headphones. The input works but I get a lot of cracking and static in the background. This was confirmed by calling the Skype Test Call number and recording a message, which is then played back.

    Here are the facts:
    • All 3 of my USB audio microphones/headsets do not work with my 2013 iMac running Mavericks
    • All 3 of these microphones/headsets worked fine with my 2008 Mac Pro running Mountain Lion
    • All 3 of these microphones/headsets work fine with my 2013 Macbook Air running Mavericks

    In this thread on Apple Discussions, several people are reporting similar issues with the iMac 2013 and Mavericks. At least two people did not have the issue when the iMac 2013 was running Mountain Lion. This of course suggests the issue is the combination of the iMac 2013 and Mavericks.

    Here's my question for you:

    If you have a 2013 iMac, do you have a USB headset or microphone that works properly? I'm trying to figure out if the problem is with a certain range of 2013 iMacs, or with all of them.
     
  2. inhalexhale1 macrumors 6502a

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    Ridgewood, NJ
    #2
    I returned an iMac with a fusion drive due to cracks and pops when using a usb audio interface. The one i have now, SSD only, does not have this issue. Unfortunately it has another problem, but ill definitely be going all SSD again for the replacement.
     
  3. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #3
    Interesting. This is the first I've heard it suggested that the problem is due to the Fusion Drive. The reason I think this may not be the case is that most people in Apple Discussions are reporting that when they downgrade to Mountain Lion their USB audio devices work just fine. So if it is an issue with Fusion and USB, it seems to only be in Mavericks.

    That said, this is the first report I've heard of someone with an iMac 2013 and a fully functional USB headset/mic.

    Unfortunately I'm outside of the return window, so am stuck with this machine. (I'm guessing if they replace it at the Apple store they'll give me the exact same model? But then again, how do they do that with a BTO model?)
     
  4. inhalexhale1 macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    I can't be certain it was the fusion drive, but the SSD only iMac did not have the clicking/popping problem. There are also a lot of people out there (check Apple's forums) that claim it's due to the fusion drive, but who knows if this is true. I've also read that booting from an external drive or splitting the fusion solves the problem. I was in the return window and didn't want to bother with any of that so I grabbed one with an SSD.

    If Apple determines your iMac needs to be replaced, they will order you a new BTO. This will not likely be their first option, and it will go in for repair first.
     
  5. Nexus007 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2013
    #5
    I am having the same problems with my USB headset Creative hs-1200. That headset doesent have mac support though, but should work anyway.
    When i Skype with my brother everything is fine in my end, but in his end i get to sound more and more like a robot. So it starts ok and then gets worse and worse.

    I have installed windows 7 on a Vmware fusion session, and tried to use the headset from there, and everyting is ok then.

    To be honest i cant remember if this was a problem before Mavericks or not (my first mac and Mavericks was released 1 month later or so) but you could also try something like my setup. In my case it looks like a Mavericks problem because the error should be consistant if it was due to hardware like Fusion drive like i also have in my mac.

    Hope it helps
     
  6. Golem macrumors 6502

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    Jun 2, 2003
    Location:
    Sydney,Australia
    #6
    Hmm you must be reading different threads to ones I have spotted because I have not seen that.

    Tagging this thread because this is 1 of 4 issues that I have with my late 2013 iMac not one of which are present in the late 2012 mac it replaced. I wisely/foolishly gave it to someone else because i knew a rock solid machine for them was more important then that last % performance increase. That was before I realised this iMac would be quite so problematic.
     
  7. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Oct 20, 2003
    #7
    inhaleexhale1,

    If you happen to have any of the threads speculating that the USB audio problem is related to the Fusion drive bookmarked, I'd be grateful if you could share links. I haven't seen them, but would help me to make my case when I take my iMac into Apple on Thursday.

    The somewhat good news, I suppose, is that since it appears no one has these problems with Mountain Lion and the 2013 iMac, it can at least hypothetically be resolved by a future update to Mavericks and/or a firmware update. But that would take Apple acknowledging it's an issue, which I haven't seen yet.

    I really don't want to split the Fusion drive, as that kind of defeats the point of having one. So I'm wondering whether I'd be better off downgrading to Mountain Lion and waiting (hoping) for Apple to work it out, or lobbying them hard to replace my iMac and going for a 512 pure SSD instead of a Fusion Drive. You (inhaleexhale1) are literally the only person I've heard of that has a 2013 iMac (running Mavericks) that works with USB audio devices. I wish we could hear from others so we could determine if it is in fact an issue with Fusion, or you just got lucky somehow and got one that works.

    Golem, curious to know what your other issues are?
     
  8. Carlos840 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2013
    #8
    I had the same problem with my 27" fusion drive, it dd it with the built in mic and speakers.

    Apple had no idea what it was and no interest in fixing it.

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1667618

    I should get a replacement this week, hope it won' do it again!
     
  9. inhalexhale1 macrumors 6502a

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    Ridgewood, NJ
    #9
    I did a search for "2013 imac fusion audio interface" when I had problems with my first iMac (with the fusion drive). There are many threads regarding USB devices, Logic, audio interfaces etc.

    Like you said, I may have received one that works with my set up and the problem was not related to the fusion drive. I don't know for sure if switching to the SSD is a fix, I was just relating personal experience and that it worked for me. Just don't want to get you hopes up!
     
  10. Golem macrumors 6502

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    Jun 2, 2003
    Location:
    Sydney,Australia
    #10
    Mail is not working, It works if I start a fresh user, but under my current user it just sits their,it won't actually get mail for the accounts in the accounts list. their is also a an obvious bug when you have no current email accounts that lets you add a phantom email account that you can not remove , as part of trying to resolve that I also managed to trash my own personal email account. My own fault not Apples but still not happy, as I would not have been trying to remove email accounts if mail actually worked in the first place. Rather then re-migrate all my apps and documents I use thunderbird for now.

    Apparently my video card is mis-identified under mavericks, resulting in certain software not running.

    Teamviewer is not working, USB headset of course, and various issues relating to licences and user permissions that may in part be due to the multiple installs I have done to try and resolve things, Excel for example insists that the licences are in use because I installed it before reformatting. Typeing my password 15 times in 15 minutes just do the simplest things is not fun either.

    I would use numbers but numbers runs like a dog with large tab delimited text files. Ie your typing a number and it might be 10 seconds between key presses being displayed.

    Sorry for the rant but I have accepted that reverting to Mountain lion may be the best option for now and I do not believe that will go simply.
     
  11. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2003
    #11
    Thanks everyone. With your direction I've done a lot more research on the Apple Discussions forum. It seems there are 5 potential workarounds:
    1. Boot from an external drive
    2. Partition the Fusion Drive into SSD + HDD
    3. Downgrade to Mountain Lion (unclear if this will work for everyone)
    4. Exchange your iMac with Fusion Drive for an iMac with SSD only (not possible for everyone)
    5. Wait for Apple to come up with a fix (not clear when or if that will happen)

    #1 & #2 aren't appealing to me. I do a lot of photography work and one of the big appeals of the Fusion drive was its fast read speed. In order to replicate that I'd need a TB enclosure with fast SSD and probably another daisy-chained TB enclosure with HDDs in a RAID0, or SSDs in a RAID0. That's $$$$.

    #3 is no big loss, as I don't use that many new features with Mavericks, but I'm not sure whether it will work. I guess I'll find out.

    #4 is not that appealing either, as it would require me to buy an external TB enclosure with HDDs in RAID0 in order to approach the 700 MB/s read speeds of the Fusion Drive.

    #5 is my only choice, unfortunately, if #3 doesn't work. I have seen several mentions on other threads that Apple is aware of this and working on a fix, FWIW.
     
  12. Bear macrumors G3

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    Sol III - Terra
    #12
    Or buy a SATA SSD and put in in a USB 3 enclosure. This would get you over 500MB/s read and write speeds.

    Although I prefer the option that Apple fixes the issue.
     
  13. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Oct 20, 2003
    #13
    Me too!

    Any particular recommendation for a USB enclosure for SATA SSD? Can it be a 2.5 SSD?

    But then wouldn't I have to also partition the Fusion Drive into an SSD and HDD, and store my photos and media (which won't fit on the external SSD) on the HDD partition? My impression was that if the Fusion Drive is accessed at all the audio problem will occur.
     
  14. Bear macrumors G3

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    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Sol III - Terra
    #14
    I'm not sure there are any 3.5" SSDs so it would have to be a 2.5". Unfortunately I'm not familiar with USB 3 enclosures so I can't recommend one.
    According to what I've read you'd have to break the Fusion drive. And as for what can fit on the external SSD - it depends on what size you get. The Samsung 840 EVO 1TB is down to about $530(US). This option still costs a bit, but would leave you with a decent size SSD when the issue is fixed.
     
  15. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #15
    [[ #1 & #2 aren't appealing to me. I do a lot of photography work and one of the big appeals of the Fusion drive was its fast read speed. ]]

    You will not "lose speed" by splitting the fusion drive.
    Quite the contrary, perceived "speed" may actually _increase_.

    You won't lose any storage space, either.

    What will happen is:
    - You will now have 2 drive icons on the desktop instead of one
    - You will have to "manually manage" where some files go. A good example might be archived photos no longer accessed very often.

    The important thing to consider is _where_ things should be. I would think that
    - OS should be on SSD (of course)
    - Apps should be on SSD (of course)
    - User account should be on SSD (but if you have LOTS of pics, music, movies, etc., some of that should be off-loaded to the HDD)
    - Not a heavy photo processor here, I don't use any Adobe products. I would think the Adobe apps should be on SSD, but can't comment re working caches, etc.

    You may actually find it _easier_ when you manually manage where things are supposed to go...
     
  16. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2003
    #16
    I really prefer to let Fusion do this kind of organization for me, and I've read some stuff that suggests Fusion is indeed faster than an SSD + separate HDD because of the way it handles files under 4 GB.

    In any event, I use Dropbox to share files in my company and the Dropbox folder is 30 GB. AFAIK that can't be moved off the boot drive. When I add my Adobe apps, frequently accessed photos, and user folder I'm already very close to 128 GB. So I'm afraid this isn't a viable solution for me.
     
  17. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #17
    [[ In any event, I use Dropbox to share files in my company and the Dropbox folder is 30 GB. AFAIK that can't be moved off the boot drive. When I add my Adobe apps, frequently accessed photos, and user folder I'm already very close to 128 GB. So I'm afraid this isn't a viable solution for me. ]]

    Very well.

    But be prepared to live with the audio problems you are experiencing, in that case.

    I sense that they are "a byproduct of fusion" -- in that fusion technology (for some reason as-yet-undetermined, or at least not admitted by Apple) isn't well-suited for handling audio-processing applications and data.

    Many people seem to be experiencing similar problems, when working with audio files. I think for those who "un-fused", or who switched to a computer that didn't have fused drives, the problems subsided.

    Perhaps Apple will fix whatever is wrong with fusion technology to eliminate this in future iterations of the OS. That is unknown at this time.

    But again, I'll predict that your problems will persist, so long as you are unwilling to give up the fusion drive...
     
  18. inhalexhale1 macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 17, 2011
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    Ridgewood, NJ
    #18
    I wanted to follow up with this thread on something new I noticed. My audio interface has been working fine, but I have it set as the default out within the program. Meaning, my audio software uses my interface but the system is on default.

    Today, I set interface as the default out under system settings. the first video I played had distorted audio.

    So, I don't think it's a hardware issue. At least not with the Fusion or the USB ports. It's probably just a driver/software issue. Otherwise I would get fuzzy playback both ways.
     
  19. badlydrawnboy thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Oct 20, 2003
    #19
    Unfortunately all of my USB devices don't have drivers or settings, so I can't make any adjustments.
     
  20. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

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    Aug 8, 2007
    Location:
    Takamatsu, Japan
    #20
    You can do the same experiment by choosing the USB headset as the default device only in the app you are using it with yet leave System Prefs > Sound > Input and Output devices set to your default iMac speakers and see if you have the same problems.

    I wish the problem for me was just distorted audio, but it is the more serious total input freeze: Keyboard and mouse (bluetooth Magic Mouse) stop functioning with no possible resolution aside from a hard reset.

    I hadn't noticed myself, but my lockups do seem to be while using the USB headset as the system default device as well.

    Unfortunately, if I don't set the USB headset as the default system device, I am unable to adjust the volume level using the controls on the headset itself.

    This is by far the most disappointing experience I've ever had with a Mac over the past 10 year of owning them. The total system freezes requiring a hard reset are about the most critical issue one could encounter and yet the specific cause/possible solutions remain undetermined.

    I am hoping it's a Mavericks thing and Apple better be working on it.
     
  21. inhalexhale1 macrumors 6502a

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    Ridgewood, NJ
    #21
    I empathize and hope its a simple fix as well. It's very deflating to get a brand new (and expensive) machine just to deal with issues that really shouldn't be. This will be my third 2013 iMac. If it has the same audio issues, I'm just going to pick up a 2012 refurb and then sell/upgrade next year. I'll update this thread with results of my next iMac.
     
  22. aswink, Dec 12, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2013

    aswink macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2013
    #22
    Fusion Drive IS The Problem

    Hello,

    It has been announced by Focusrite, AVID, and other audio hardware manufactures via Tech Support calls to users that the Fusion Drive is *in fact* the issue. I have been following this issue on 20 or more threads from Gearslutz, Apple, AVID, Focusrite, etc:

    https://discussions.apple.com/thread/5484036?tstart=0
    https://discussions.apple.com/thread/5479208?tstart=0
    https://discussions.apple.com/thread...art=0&tstart=0
    http://duc.avid.com/forumdisplay.php?f=15
    http://www.gearslutz.com/board/music...new-imacs.html


    As of right now, Focusrite is the only company to have made a fix for a few interfaces, but this is an Apple mistake. We need Apple to address this... And I would greatly appreciate it if MacRumors would post something on this so it gain more attention.

    http://global.focusrite.com/answerbase/using-a-scarlett-interface-on-osx-109-mavericks

    Here is one poor solution for USB and FIREWIRE interfaces...

    http://www.macworld.com/article/2015664/how-to-split-up-a-fusion-drive.html

    Do you want to have to return your fusion drive iMac for a SSD iMac, partition your drive and have your iMac work slower, wait for a driver update that may never happen from your hardware manufacturer or Apple, or just buy another interface?... I certainly do not want to do any of these options and frankly, I feel Apple should give us some answers on what is happening... They do not even put a disclaimer on the fusion drive option that *all audio interfaces do not work* at the moment. This is a huge inconvenience and has wasted too much of our time. Instead of continuing to complain on this forum, I advise doing the following...

    ***Here are 5 simple things you can do to help speed up the process for a response or firmware update from Apple or from your audio hardware manufacturer***:

    1. Keep sending Apple feedback at:

    - http://www.apple.com/feedback/imac.html

    2. Keep contacting AppleCare and Apple Support. Keep asking about the status on if Apple is working on a solution or not:

    - 800 MY APPLE
    - http://www.apple.com/support/

    3. Keep calling your tech support for your audio interface (AVID, etc)

    -Ask what is the situation is... Are you working on fix? Are you working with Apple on a fix?

    4. Contact your friends who work at Apple. Tell them to give feedback.

    5. Go to the press:

    - Send a tip to http://www.macrumors.com , http://www.engadget.com , http://gizmodo.com/ , http://www.t3.com , etc.
     
  23. inhalexhale1 macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 17, 2011
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    Ridgewood, NJ
    #23
    Are people with 2012 fusion drives having this problem? I don't remember reading this kind of stuff until the 2013's were released.
     
  24. SaSaSushi macrumors 68040

    SaSaSushi

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Location:
    Takamatsu, Japan
    #24
    I haven't seen any reports of pre-2013 systems with Fusion Drives reporting this issue either. Perhaps it is a Fusion Drives + Haswell issue to be more specific.

    Thanks for the awesome info, Aswink! Great suggestions. Once this becomes widely reported, one hopes that Apple will be forced to respond promptly.
     
  25. Bear macrumors G3

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    Location:
    Sol III - Terra
    #25
    The 2 pieces of good news I see here are:
    • Mountain Lion doesn't appear to have the issue, so when I get a new iMac I can install Mountain Lion on it. I'm still running Mountain Lion on y current iMac so this is no big deal to me.
    • It also appears that it's a software issue so Apple can fix it with a patch to Mavericks.
    Have I missed anything important?
     

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